About The Guest
Jennifer Hargreaves is the Founder and CEO of tellent. tellent is a flexible work recruitment and social impact organization with a mission to create more equal opportunities for women to lead and earn. Through a job board and virtual networking platform, she supports women on their journey to finding work that works for them (flexible work).
tellent also helps forward- thinking and inclusive businesses to access professional and skilled talent when and how they need it so that they can thrive in our current economic climate and future of work. She was educated in Canada and has lived and worked in New Zealand, New York and London, UK.
In addition to a free job board, tellent has a paid membership option – this is a professional networking community and mastermind group for job-seekers and freelancers to find and build flexible work. 60% – 80% of jobs are filled before they are advertised. Your network and community play a key role in finding your next opportunity. Who do you want to surround yourself with?
*USE THE CODE BACON TO GET 15% OFF THE 6-MONTH MEMBERSHIP FOR PROFESSIONALS*
Read on to learn more about how Jennifer is bridging the talent gap.
Asking Questions To Understand Why Things Were Done The Way They Were Done
3:31 So I bet there’s a number of listeners out there who can listen to this as well, or who can relate to this as well. And my parents will attest to this as well.
I was always the kid asking why. All the time. Go sit at your desk. Why do I have to sit at my desk? Can’t I stand? It feels more comfortable. I can learn more. Come home at four o’clock. Why do I have to come home at four o’clock? What’s happening at four o’clock? Can’t I go to the park on the way home? You know, do this. Why do I need to do it that way? Why can’t I do it this way? It makes more sense.
So just really not trying to be obnoxious at all. But really trying to understand why things were done the way they were done. And it got me into a lot of trouble at school. And it got me into a lot of trouble at home.
And it took me a very long time to realize and in work, in my career as well the same thing, people saying, Why can’t you just do what you’re told. And I’ve always been really terrible at doing what I’m told unless I understand why I’m doing it. And that’s what makes more sense to me. And that’s actually how my company started as well. I kind of felt like in order to do a good job at work. I had to be at an office between the hours of 9 to 5 and I just couldn’t understand why. Why, when I’m more productive at home. Why, when increased flexibility would allow me to do other things in my life that made me happy, which would in turn make me a more productive and better worker. I don’t understand it.
Why are we still behind on gender equality all this time, like after all these years, why haven’t things changed? So it’s really given me this perspective of like you said, challenging the status quo and simply just asking why. And to this day, it drives my husband bonkers.
Not Having An Interest in Being An Entrepreneur Early On
5:35 – I feel like I was a bit of a reluctant entrepreneur, to be honest. And I always felt like these qualities of questioning why and being curious, you know, girls are typically told to sit down and be quiet, right? It’s just one of those things that society has taught us to do or assume that we should do. And I was, like I said, always in trouble. So I learned to associate the curiosity with not being a very valued quality or personality trait. And I had no interest in becoming an entrepreneur and using a skill set that just always got me in trouble.
What I wanted to do because I love exploring and questioning and everything else was channelled that into a business. So my career goal was to be an international business development manager, I even had a title. But I had that vision of me travelling from country to country, opening up new markets and a power suit carrying my briefcase, walking up a big set of stairs into an office building. I had the whole vision. That’s where I was going. Yeah, it wasn’t an entrepreneur.
Connecting Back To Her Why
11:03 – So I started tellent when I moved back to Canada, and I was pregnant with my second child, and I was looking for a job that would give me the career growth that I wanted and the family life that I wanted, and I couldn’t find anything.
And that really was the catalyst to launching tellent was that if all these companies are out there saying we need more women in leadership, and all these women are saying, I need more flexibility. Well, why are we connecting this to this is back to my why Karen is – Why aren’t they talking about their flexible workplaces? Why aren’t they talking about their culture in a way that resonates with women?
If we’ve done the survey, and we’ve done the research, and we know that experienced professional women, the number one thing they are looking for an employer is a culture flexibility and work-life balance, why aren’t we talking about that in our job descriptions?
So that was really the catalyst for me launching tellent. So one of the bigger challenges getting started was low self-esteem and low confidence. So yes, I was questioning why Yes, I saw a solution. But in my experience, questioning why and pushing forward with solutions didn’t always end well.
And it took me a long time to get really comfortable with the fact that actually being curious and asking questions is a gift because that’s how things change.
Nothing would ever change if somebody didn’t say, Hey, isn’t there a way to do better? Or, oh, why aren’t we doing it like that? So it took a really long time. Even as I was starting my business and growing my business, I had both my kids at home with me, just second-guessing myself. And is this the right thing? Who am I? To do this? I don’t have a background in HR or recruitment or diversity and inclusion, no one’s gonna listen to me.
So I’d say the first biggest hurdle was, it was internal. I really had to get over the idea that I wasn’t good enough to do the solution. Because if I come up with a solution, no one else had, or no one else was doing it. So why not put it out there? Why not try it and see how it goes and having conversations with myself of so what if you fail? What’s the worst-case scenario? I don’t have a lot of money invested in this. I’ve invested a lot of time but there’s learnings coming out of this. And at one point in the company, I did actually consider folding it and getting a job like a job job, like a real full time in an office job. And I really had to question why I was doing what I was doing, what is the impact I’m having? What have I learned over the years? And is this what I want to be doing? And it ended with? Yes, absolutely. I absolutely. Want to keep questioning why I do think that we have so much further to go around workplace cultures, around gender equalit,y around flexible workplaces. And I’m not ready to quit yet. So I’m, I’m going to keep going.
On Building a Community
17:39 – This is something I actually struggled with quite a bit was being authentic and vulnerable? For anybody who knows me one on one, I am 100% authentic, but how do you show up in front of people you’re trying to sell to? How do you show up in front of people you’re trying to lead? How do you show up as authentic and vulnerable, when people are looking to you for guidance, and that’s something I struggled with.
And my advice would be to be authentic, to have conversations. It doesn’t have to be I thought vulnerability and authenticity meant telling people my flaws. But it’s not. It’s just being open and talking about yourself and some of the experiences that you’re going through as well. Or relating to people and, and really listening. So I would say be authentic, and show up as yourself and people will love it. People buy people, right. And it’s the same with networking. When you’re networking and building relationships. People buy people. People hire people, they know they hire people they like so if you want to get hired through networking, and are using that as a channel to boost your job search, get to know people build meaningful relationships. Same with growing the community.
The Benefits of Virtual Networking
19:26 – Going into the rooms in a physical event where you don’t know anyone I just found excruciatingly painful. So having a virtual networking platform and networking digitally has been amazing for me, and I absolutely love doing it. I get such a high out of networking now.
So some tips for how to do it. I would say pick your platform. If you try and hit every single platform and network across everything, you’re just going to get overwhelmed and you will literally spend all day lost in social media. So depending on what your objectives are, pick the platform that’s gonna help help you meet those objectives, most of all.
So for most of us, if it’s job search, depending on our industry, it’s likely going to be LinkedIn. get onto LinkedIn. And I would say, start with your profile, make sure that you’ve got a professional profile, because if anyone’s going to recommend you, or if anyone’s going to go back and click on your profile, you want to make sure that you’re presented how you want to be presented, and then start commenting on other people’s posts. So it doesn’t have to be aggressive networking. A number of women I’ve heard say before, I have nothing to add, I have nothing to contribute. But you do. You can be positive, you can say, “Good luck”. If somebody posted a question, if you don’t have the answer for it, say, I don’t have the answer for it, but I hope you find it. So it doesn’t have to be.
Because we always say when you’re building a reciprocal relationship, you want to start by giving first and by being of service. So really listening to what other people are asking for and helping them out. And that’s where the relationship builds starts, is by being helpful and being of service. So being of service, as I said, can be anything from making a connection, making introduction, but it can also be just being positive or saying, “Hey, well done, congratulations, or Oooo, that must be tough. Better luck next time.” So it doesn’t have to be full on hardcore. Out and out, but putting comments once in a while and getting your name noticed is going to help when you apply for the job or when you ask for something later on.
How The Hidden Job Market Works
25:02- Yeah, so it’s exactly like we just talked about people buy from people they know and trust, when they’re buying a product. If you’re thinking about, oh, I need somebody to redesign my website, do you put up an ad on LinkedIn? Or do you ask your entrepreneur friend who just had her website done who she used? Right, it’s usually you want a recommendation from someone who you know and trust about who they used to do a good job.
So this is sort of how the hidden job market operates is Who do you know, who knows you, who knows who, and who can be connected to who and that goes for the job search as well. So if you’ve got a hiring manager for a job, and right now, there’s a lot of people applying for jobs. Let’s say they get 1000 applicants. If you know, the hiring manager, and you can make an introduction for somebody, they’re going to go to the top of that pile. And they’re going to stand out, or they’re going to go into a smaller pool of people who’ve had an introduction, and they’re going to have a second look at your resume.
So this is the hidden job market is is really networking, word of mouth, and a lot of women I work with create their own opportunities as well. So while you’re networking, and having conversations with people really saying like, Karen, what are your pain points in compensation? It doesn’t have to be like a drill down. But like, what are you finding really tough about entrepreneurship right now? Well, my website is so slow, I wish I had a way to convert more leads, it would be great to build up my podcast exposure, whatever it is, but whoever’s listening then says, Oh, that’s great. Well, I can send you through a few articles that might be able to help you. But actually, that’s what I do. That’s my expertise. Maybe I could, maybe I could help you. And now you just created a job that, you know, Karen didn’t even know existed, she didn’t even know she needed it until a solution was provided for her. So that’s another example of the hidden job market, and really comes from talking to people being curious, and coming up with solutions being of service being helpful, and not necessarily in a pitch back sale. But in a be of service, first.
The Definition of a Flexible Work Culture
27:24 – A flexible work culture is a culture that’s based on trust and autonomy. So it’s not just come into the office, Monday to Friday, nine to five, we will make an accommodation for you, if you need to go to the dentist and talk to your manager, if it’s your son’s soccer practice, maybe we can give you a couple of hours off. If you work from home on Friday, that’s okay. But I want you to do a couple extra hours on Thursday. That’s not really a culture of trust and autonomy. So a culture of flexibility is really about, we trust you to get the job done. How where and when you’re going to do it best and how you’re going to be most productive. So if you want to work in the morning, great if you can get most of the stuff done in four days instead of five, as long as you’re available, when we need to be you to be available. Great, it shouldn’t really matter.
And there’s actually a term called a results-only work environment, which is which is a ROE environment, which is founded on those principles, which is we are going to evaluate you on the results and the output you provide us with versus hours worked or bums on seats.
I was hearing a couple of companies at the beginning of when COVID started, we all went into lockdown talking about how they’re giving flexible work benefits to their parents in their company. And they were saying you can take two hours off to homeschool your child but then I want you to make up that two hours at the end of the day. And to me that it drives me a little bit bonkers. Because if they got the job done, why are they just going to sit at the computer at the end? Why? Why do they need to do the extra two hours, if they can get the job done efficiently in the time they need to get it done.
So what would be more beneficial for the employee would be to say, you know, Susie, get your job done. I don’t care how many hours you take to homeschool your child, it’s going to make you happy and productive. It’s going to take stress off of you. It’s going to make you be able to concentrate better, and it’s going to take the pressure off. So let’s talk about you know, your top three priorities and focus on that deliver that and then if you can’t do it, we’ll have a conversation about what that looks like. But ultimately, a flexible work culture has to work for both the employee and the employer.
If You Want The Best Talent Possible
33:17 – Because if you said, I’m only going to hire people who can be in our office between the hours of nine to 5pm, you’re cutting out a large portion of the population. And you’re looking for the best talent, the best talent possible to keep your company competitive within your postcode. Right, yep. So I think having access to flexible workers and having the agility within your own organization, to tap into the diverse talent pool that’s out there and make it feel inclusive and be inclusive. It’s only going to be a win for your organization.
Staying Competitive in the Marketplace
39:51 – So I’m seeing a lot of demand for digital skills, which I don’t think will come as a surprise to anyone. But when I’m looking through the job boards, and I’m looking At what’s coming up, and the rules that are coming up, there’s a lot around how do you bring people together digitally? How do you build collaboration? How do you build teams? How do you build community. So I would say anything in the digital or social space, social media, marketing, community building, technology, getting online, running digital events, all of these skills will be invaluable in the future.
And I think Trudeau said last year that maybe was even the year before he said, the pace of change has never been this fast, nor will it ever be this slow again. And he’s not wrong things with technology, the way it is, things are going to be moving so quickly, that if you want to keep up you’re going to need to foster things like adaptability, mindset, continuous learning, like being able to pick up and bounce and flow and move with things I would say. They’re all developed, developable, I’m pretty sure that’s not a word. They’re all you know, they’re all skills that can be picked up and learned.
Advice To People Who Are Considering The Idea of Entrepreneurship
43:00 – I would say, make sure that you’re passionate about it, make sure that your reason for doing it is going to keep you going. And your reason for doing it doesn’t have to be like, you know, you’re saving starving children, it doesn’t have to be that big of a passion or why. It can be to have the freedom to live the life I want to live. It can be to earn extra income to travel. It could be to pick my kids up from school.
Basically, what I want to say is that the product you’re selling doesn’t have to be that exciting, you don’t have to be that excited about the product that you’re selling if you why is compelling and exciting to you.
And your why could be anything from picking the kids up from school, the ability to travel, having the flexibility to do your job on your terms, how you want to do it. That can be your why. Or it could be bringing a passion to life and that for me, I have a nice combination of both, which is I’m so passionate about what I do every day and the products that I sell, and how I’m helping women, but also the freedom that I get from being an entrepreneur and all the other stuff, all the other mess and all the other lows, it’s worth it. It’s worth it because I get the freedom to do what I want, and not be told what to do. And I am delivering a product that I’m so super passionate about. And when it does get really hard. I asked myself, What do you want? Do you want to quit? Because you always have choices. I can always hang it up tomorrow and I can go out and look for a job in an office or for somebody else. What do you want? Do you want to keep going or do you want to quit? And always always I say I want to keep going.
Post- Interview: A Silver Lining In the Pandemic
45:40 – Because pre-COVID Karen, I was knocking on doors and, and people were answering my emails and answering my calls. And I’d have the first meeting and they’d say, yes, you know, flexible work is important. Yes, women in leadership is important. But you know, we don’t really have a budget. It’s not. There’s always a feeling of it’s not that important, right. So there was no urgency around writing some of these wrongs, or fixing some of these inequities.
What COVID did was it unveiled systemic equities across the board, like not just gender, but race, social, economic status, about everything. And it’s brought all this attention on to the system and how it’s fundamentally broken. And it’s not equal. So I think another gift of COVID is that. That now we’re all paying attention. Now I call companies they’re like how, like, I would love to say they’re like, How much money do you need? Because that would be amazing. But they’re saying, yes, let’s have more conversations. Yes. What do I need to do? So the urgency is now here, whereas it wasn’t before.